Two Poems

By: Ashley Cline



counting summers in unitarity

As the black hole blinks out of existence, so does the universe’s record of everything that went inside. This violates a principle called “unitarity,” the backbone of quantum theory, which holds that as particles interact, information about them is never lost, only scrambled, so that if you reversed the arrow of time in the universe’s quantum evolution, you’d see things unscramble into an exact re-creation of the past.” -Natalie Wolchover

& it was the summer when
we rode our bikes to the lake
more times than we could count

& skipped stones like Hiawatha
honey, like June bugs jumping in July,
like everything impossible wrapped up

in ripples & broadcasted back
to the shores of our grandchildren’s

we were royalty, but kind—

we listened to the bumblebees
as they bobbled on the breeze
full of purpose:

like cork in a riptide,
like worry stones in a stream,
like effervescent empathy in our bellies

we left them the daisies &
the tiger lilies, the hyacinths
& the sunflowers

& collected ourselves inside
baskets of each other instead

with colored pencil planets like vertigo
& verbs, we had all we needed
to create a world

in which the saddest words we knew
were tucked inside balloons
stuffed with helium

& sent to space

we exchanged our fears for stardust
so that our bones might feel more at
home, here

you: a fixed point in the solar system
& me: a shuttle on a mission

we were astronauts, but grounded—

& it was the summer when
we rode our bikes to the lake
more times than we could count

& sat in the shade like blackhole
goodness, like halogen holiness,
like we watched as words melted

from our lips in turns of the earth
& in terms of Pluto

like molasses off a spoon, like glacial
ice in cups of lemonade, like our breath
evaporated in the heat &

collected itself on our arms & fingertips
& pulled itself up over our heads,
like halos only we could see,

like escapism but for real, like we could
scuba dive without oxygen tanks
& no one asked us to explain

our magic

we were illusionists, but honest—

& it was the summer when
we rode our bikes to the lake
more times than we could count,

when that boy reached inside
the chest of a robot & asked her to breathe

again all on her own

as if you can shake hands with a heartbeat
without catching your wrist within
the machinery

of quantum goodbyes

like hero-shaped house fires,
like good intentions, like everything
impossible wrapped up in a summer heat

that painted the lake with red acrylics like—

all i’m saying is that, sometimes,
you’ve got to be careful about
the things
you decide to hold on to.



to build a home from pebbles, or they sang to each other until they had learned each other’s voices

before the fox dust finds you / before the steeple splits the sky
into bucktooth smile & crooked luck

tell me, again, your origin story / tell me, again,
the names of your atoms

tell me, again

so that i might call them / home, so that i might call
them fever & sweat

tell me, again / so that you might break the tides of my tongue
& make oceans of my cupped

hands, ready

ready ready ready / to overflow in a language like fig
trees & event horizons, like

piano keys & your shoulder peeking / out from
beneath cosmic timing & teeth

your t-shirt: a galaxy

i can grab with both hands / so tell me, again
how the moon looks over her shoulder

at Saturn & tell me, again / how she calls her love,
tell me, again, & uproot my mouth,

make a garden of all this—

& sing to me sing / to me sing to me sing
& i swear

you’ll make rubble of me yet.


*The line “they sang to each other until they had learned each other’s voices” in the title “to build a home from pebbles, or…” is taken directly from the New York Times article: “The Gay Penguins of Australia,” written by Nellie Bowles.


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An avid introvert and full-time carbon-based life-form, Ashley Cline crash landed in south Jersey twenty-eight years ago and still calls that strange land home. Most often found listening to Carly Rae Jepsen, her essays on music and feelings have been published by Sound Bites Media; her poetry has appeared in 404 InkThird Point Press and Francis House. She graduated from Rowan University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, and her best at all-you-can-eat sushi is 5 rolls in 11 minutes. Twitter: @the_Cline.